Perception is often influenced by context. A well-known class of perceptual context effects is perceptual contrast illusions, in which proximate stimulus regions interact to alter the perception of various stimulus attributes, such as perceived brightness, color and size. Although the phenomenal reality of contrast effects is well documented, in many cases the connection between these illusions and how information is processed by perceptual systems is not well understood. Here, we use noise as a tool to explore the information processing correlates of one such contrast effect: the Ebbinghaus–Titchener size-contrast illusion. In this illusion, the perceived size of a central dot is significantly altered by the sizes of a set of surrounding dots, such that the presence of larger surrounding dots tends to reduce the perceived size of the central dot (and vise versa). In our experiments, we first replicated previous results that have demonstrated the subjective reality of the Ebbinghaus–Titchener illusion. We then used visual noise in a detection task to probe the manner in which observers processed information when experiencing the illusion. By correlating the noise with observers' classification decisions, we found that the sizes of the surrounding contextual elements had a direct influence on the relative weight observers assigned to regions within and surrounding the central element. Specifically, observers assigned relatively more weight to the surrounding region and less weight to the central region in the presence of smaller surrounding contextual elements. These results offer new insights into the connection between the subjective experience of size-contrast illusions and their associated information processing correlates.